Rottweiler: Breed profile
The Rottweiler may have a ferocious reputation, but with a committed pet parent who can train and socialize them, they make loyal and courageous companions
Think of a Rottweiler and it's likely you already have an impression of the breed. Over the years, these dogs have been thought to be aggressive, dangerous, aloof and unpredictable, so why do so many people enjoy them as pets?
The answer is simple. These muscular dogs can make for very capable companions, so long as you're willing to put in the effort to properly train and socialize them early. If you do, then you'll find Rottweilers to be obedient, calm and fun. They're still likely to be strong-willed, but with confidence will come loyalty.
Rottweilers certainly make good guard dogs. It's in their nature, a hangover from the days when their ancestors, the mastiff-type Molossus, would accompany large Roman armies and guard live cattle against predators while keeping them moving.
The Romans would pass through an area of southern Germany which, centuries later, became known as Rottweil, named after the red-tiled roofs of the villas built there. The descents of the Molossus dogs – the Rottweiler – would be used to drive the cattle to market, pull carts and carry money around their necks. Their protective abilities were absolute and that still stands today, but this often misunderstood breed has plenty else going for it - let’s find out if this breed is the right canine companion for you.
How much exercise does a Rottweiler need?
Life expectancy: 8 - 10 years
Average weight: Male: 130lbs/60kg Female: 105lbs/48kg
About the same as: 100 basketballs
Rottweilers have bags of energy and that means they need plenty of exercise. You could get away with engaging puppies for between 30 minutes and an hour each day but, as they grow older, you'll be looking at more than two hours of daily activity – no mean feat given Rottweilers also have good stamina.
If you can keep up, however, the Rottweilers will likely enhance your fitness levels too. There's certainly much scope for interaction. As well as enjoying a good run or a pleasurable swim, Rottweilers love to take part in a game of fetch or hide and seek. Indeed, you'll be seeking to exercise their mind as much as their body so consider setting up an obstacle course, hone their natural skills, buy the best dog toys and maybe enjoy a game of frisbee or tug. This will help steer them away from unwanted behavior such as chewing or barking. You'll both have lots of fun too.
Are Rottweilers easy to train?
Suitable for: Experienced dog owners who want a strong, loyal, protective dog
Not suitable for: Anyone who doesn't have the time or energy for training and socialization
Temperament: Courageous, confident, self-assured
Shedding: Moderate to high
Rottweilers are clever cookies, tending to weigh up situations and people before acting. They're also quick to learn which is why they're used in the military and police, as therapy dogs and more. But they require solid training and extensive socialization from a very early age – literally the day you bring them into your home – and it's crucial that you're not only consistent and patient but firm in your approach.
Give a Rottweiler any leeway during your training and you run the risk of encouraging bad behavior. A lack of socialization can also make this breed aggressive or shy, depending on their nature. Just remember that Rottweilers are naturally suspicious of strangers which is why they make for great protectors and guard dogs. They're also large and strong with powerful jaws: problems picked up as puppies will become a nightmare to deal with as they get older.
With care, understanding and positive enforcement using praise and plenty of the best dog treats, Rottweilers will soon learn simple commands and become great family pets. Yes, it's going to take up lots of your time but you'll definitely reap the rewards. A non-aggressive Rottweiler is great to have around and they'll show you huge amounts of love and loyalty.
Are Rottweilers good with kids?
Let's be honest here. It's likely you will have read or heard heartbreaking stories of children being attacked, even killed, by Rottweilers and there is no denying that this has happened numerous times over the years. It's one of the reasons why Rottweilers have a reputation for being dangerous and, as with all dogs, you should never leave children unsupervised when they're around.
Even so, children can enjoy a very healthy relationship with Rottweilers if the dog is well-trained and socialized. When they're in a family situation, they're calm, easy-going and affectionate, instinctively protective of the children in their “pack”. They're also tolerant so won't mind being poked and prodded by young fingers. That said, they are large, powerful dogs and an accidental knock of their body against a toddler could cause injuries.
What do Rottweilers eat?
Rottweilers are large, muscular, energetic dogs and they need food that provides them with lots of protein. Expert advice suggests the best dog food must include 22 to 28 percent protein from sources such as chicken, turkey, lamb and herring. The easiest way to ensure you're feeding a Rottweiler properly is to buy food specially tailored to the breed such as Royal Canin's adult dry dog food.
You should certainly avoid overfeeding Rottweilers because they are prone to becoming obese. Some food can also cause skin problems, vomiting, flatulence or an upset stomach. You can give Rottweilers fruit as treats, however, with cranberries, apples, cantaloupe, blueberries and bananas going down well, providing plenty of vitamins and minerals. Small amounts of vegetables including carrots, green beans and corn also have many benefits. Aim for about 2,200 calories each day (or about 3,500 calories if they're very active).
Do Rottweilers bark a lot?
Simple answer? No. Rottweilers are quiet dogs and they don't bark without reason so if they are making a lot of noise then it's important to work out why. In most cases, it's due to fear, an issue with their health or to issue a warning. They can, however, make an unusual growl-like noise. This, however, is akin to the purr of a cat and it indicates a happy dog.
Are Rottweilers aggressive?
They can be and that's why it's so important to train and socialize them. Statistics compiled by DogsBite.org showed that four fatal dog attacks in the US in 2019 involved a Rottweiler which represented eight percent of all dog-related deaths that year (the Pit Bull was top with 33 fatal attacks; some 69 percent).
Even so, Rottweilers were still found to be average in their aggressiveness towards their owners and other dogs; albeit more so towards strangers. Treat them well, however, ensure they understand their boundaries and teach the family how to behave around them and, like so many Rottweiler owners, you'll find they are no more hazardous than other breeds.
Do Rottweilers shed a lot?
Amount Of Shedding: Moderate to high
Easy To Groom: Yes
General Health: Good
Potential For Weight Gain: Moderate
With a dense, medium-length double coat, Rottweilers will shed moderately throughout the year. This increases in the Spring and Fall to help them cope with the changing weather but it's all entirely manageable. Brush their coat a couple of times a week to remove dead hair and keep them free of matting, more so during those two seasons. Bath them every couple of months or so with the best dog shampoo, brush their teeth weekly and trim their nails monthly. Perform quick checkovers to ensure their ears are clean and be sure their body is free of lumps, bumps and fleas.
Rottweiler health problems
Rottweilers are generally healthy dogs but they can develop heart problems such as subaortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve. It's an hereditary condition that can be monitored in mild cases, with medication needed for moderate and severe cases.
Rottweilers can also suffer from elbow and hip dysplasia as well as cruciate ligament damage. Aggressive bone cancer and lymphoma are also common. They will overeat, given the chance, so be wary of them becoming obese. Check their weight and ensure it's not more than 20 percent over what it should be. Investing in the best pet insurance can be helpful in meeting the costs of unexpected illness.
Should I get a Rottweiler?
Rottweilers are popular dogs that are often in the top 10 most-owned breeds. Smart, loyal and protective, they give a lot of joy but they are also capable of destructive behavior and they must be well trained and socialized otherwise they can become aggressive. Novice dog owners should definitely steer clear. It's a breed that requires understanding. You may also find that there are local restrictions regarding the ownership of Rottweilers so check your country or city laws and, if you live in a housing community, check whether the breed is permitted.
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David Crookes has been a journalist for more than 20 years and he has written for a host of magazines, newspapers, websites and books including World of Animals, BBC Earth, Dogs and Canines, Gadget and The Independent. Born in England, he lives in a household with two cats but he’s also keenly interested in the differences between the huge number of dog breeds — in fact, you can read many of his breed guides here on PetsRadar. With a lifelong passion for technology, too, he’s always on the lookout for useful devices that will allow people to spend more time with their pets.